Secretary of State, John Kerry, traveled to Jerusalem on Thursday for separate meetings with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Ramallah. After two days of separate meetings, Kerry released a statement on Saturday that he is hopeful and we are making progress, according to Reuters on Saturday evening.
Speaking after extensive, separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, Kerry sounded somewhat optimistic about the chances of ending the conflict, despite misgivings voiced recently by both sides and a lack of tangible signs of movement early on in the meetings.
Even though a peace agreement is not quite ready, progress is being made according to Kerry on Saturday. ‘I am confident that the talks we have had in the last two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others,’ he said after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Since arriving in the region on Thursday, Kerry has spent about eight hours in talks with Abbas and, after a roughly four-hour and 40-minute session in Jerusalem on Saturday night, more than 12 hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
These talks under U.S. peace brokering role are now into five months and 10 visits by Kerry to the Middle East began last July after a three-year halt.
Core issues at the onset of Kerry’s arrival in Jerusalem on Thursday, are in the framework he was trying to build which would aim to address all of the conflict's core issues, including borders, security, and the future of Palestinian refugees and the fate of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu had expressed deep concern on Friday about Palestinian sincerity and Kerry’s arrival in Ramallah was greeted with protestors chanting, ‘Go home.’
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged Israel to stop building Jewish settlements on occupied land the Palestinians want for a state and to halt house demolitions, which rights groups view as a form of collective punishment.
But Erekat, standing beside Kerry in Ramallah, also made a case for peace directly to the Palestinians and he suggested that Kerry could return to the region later this month.
‘No one benefits more from the success of Secretary Kerry's efforts than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more (from) failure than Palestinians,’ he said.
Kerry said he would fly to Jordan and Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss with their rulers the peace talks, which the United States hopes will lead to an agreement within nine months.
Broad Arab support is viewed as crucial if the Palestinians are to make the compromises likely to prove necessary to strike a peace deal with Israel.
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